Trade Show Life: Swoon

Mandy Movahhed
July 8, 2014

Brooklyn-based startup beauty company Swoon sells an awesome product that's part applicator, part spoon, allowing you to salvage every bit of gloss from a lip gloss tube. Learn more about how their experience with beauty trade shows and booth design, as well as how they use sales order management, even in cases where they aren't selling at shows! Beauty Trade Show Ideas: An Interview with SwoonHS: What do you sell and who do you sell to? Swoon: Swoon is a prestige beauty manufacturer with the mission of "beauty made better." We create and sell cosmetics tools and products that are effective solutions to common beauty bothers. We are currently selling our first tool, a universal lip gloss applicator and  scoop. We sell mainly to specialty beauty retailers (online and brick and mortar, e.g., Sephora). HS: What is your yearly trade show schedule? Swoon: We are a start up company, and since launching last July have attended two trade shows with plans to attend on additional this summer. Our goal is to attend two per year. HS: What's your biggest sales challenge? Swoon: Our biggest sales challenge is education.  Our first tool defines a new category in the cosmetics tools markets, and it's purpose is not readily apparent in its design. Therefore, at Trade Shows, we have to use several tactics to educate buyers, distributors and press. Our booth typically has video, static imagery and our team doing live demos. HS: Tell us about a typical day at a trade show. Swoon: Long hours in high heels. We typically arrive 30 minutes before the show opens, around 8am to set up our booth. We spend most of the day talking to buyers and the press, and doing lots of demos. We usually have arranged at least one formal meeting with buyers and several more with press. There's not much eating, but we hide high protein power snacks in the booth to keep our energy up. We take lots if cards and write notes to help us remember who was who for follow up after the show.  At the end of the day, typically around 6, we go for a BIG dinner with the team. HS: How does sales order management make your life easier at trade shows? Swoon: We use order mobile order writing solution to capture contact information of the buyers and distributors we meet at shows. We haven't worked a show where we've sold, so we store the information and use it to facilitate follow up, and sending invoices.  This make our job easier because it provides on central platform for housing customer information and for order processing. HS: Any tips or best practices you follow when preparing for trade shows? Swoon: Tips: if it's your first trade show, and you don't have a huge display and many products to sell, don't be overwhelmed by brands that do. Think of it this way, you only have to convince the buyer that your one thing is really great! Pack a survival kit of snacks, water, gum, windex, paper towels, tape, phone and iPad chargers. Give attendees a fun reason to stop by your booth - we give away packaged Jelly Bellies in our brand colors with our social media handles on the packaging. We also have a fun social promotion to encourage people to like us on Facebook or follow us Twitter. HS: Can you share any recommendations or experience with booth design? Swoon: Keep it simple. We had a lucite bar with beautiful florals and our product. Our welcoming smiles attracted just as much traffic as the booths with more sophisticated designs. HS: People can buy from others - why do they buy from Swoon? Swoon: People buy from Swoon because our product solves a beauty bother that most beauty junkies can relate to. Ours is a product that reduces frustration and saves customers. Who doesn't love those two benefits!  Also, Swoon is easy to work with. We can work with most budgets and types of resellers. HS: What's the funniest/weirdest thing that has ever happened to you at a trade show? Swoon: At our first trade show, we were doing a lot of press, so many people were approaching me by name, saying "hey, are you Keisha?" So of course I was friendly and responded positively to everyone. One woman approached me in a similar fashion and I responded as I had to others with a warm smile and firm handshake. This woman happened to be the principal of the company who owned the rights to a trademark application that we were attempting to get her to abandon and negotiations weren't going well. She became hostile very quickly, and I diffused the situation by maintaining my smile and referring her to our attorney. When she finally left our booth, we all had a good laugh at the exchange because we had discussed the potential of it happening but were surprised it actually did. The moral if the story I guess is when all else fails, refer to your attorney! On that note - hope you enjoyed hearing more about Swoon! Click here to read our last Trade Show Life post, and stay tuned for the next post in this series, coming soon!